Born in 1929 in Pyongyang, Lee Gun-sam majored in English
Language and Literature at Dongguk University (Seoul). He then went on
to study dramatic arts at the Universities of North Carolina and New York.
He was for many years a Professor at Sogang University, Seoul.
He began his career as a playwright during his studies
in the United States, when two one-act plays written by him in English
were performed at the Carolina Playmakes Theater in 1958-9.
Returning to Korea, he began to write plays for the Korean
stage. He established the Minjung Theater Group in 1963. In all he has
published more than sixty plays and is the most prolific as well as the
most-acted dramatist in Korea.
He has had a profound influence on Korean drama, being
the first Korean playwright to devote his energies to comedy, a genre too
often undervalued by Korean literary critics. His comedies are not farces
written to provoke loud laughter but often subtle exercises in satire.
In many works he has targeted the military dictatorships of the recent
decades and he is strongly aware of the dramatist's duty to include social
criticism in his work.
Among his most popular plays are The Great King Refused
to Die, King Lee's Property, The Wandering Troupe, The Madmen's Festival.
He has also written more than ten books on the theater, including A History
of Western Drama, and Introduction to Theater, and has translated over
thirty plays into Korean, including works by Shakespeare, Marlowe, Shaw,
and Eugene O'Neill.
More than any other work, he is known for A New Common
Sense, which was first staged at Seoul's National Theater in 1965 and has
since been staged more than 500 times in different parts of the world.
It is a tragi-comedy depicting the lives of young Koreans in the 1960s
who used all available means to climb the ladder of worldly success, being
corrupted on the way by the ills of materialism.
A New Common Sense
KIM SANG-HAK, a rocket expert, his elder brother
KIM SANG-CH'OL, his younger brother
PRESIDENT of a Steel Company
SONG A-MI, Secretary, President's daughter-in-law
TANK, lover of Hyon So-hi
HYON SO-HI, mistress of Tank
MANAGER, of the apartment building in which Kim Sang-bom
PAK YONG-JA, a girl who lives in the apartment
MRS, MUN, Pak Yong-ja's mother
PAE YONG-MIN, Business Manager
The stage can represent an apartment, the office of a
company, and streets in various ways. But it should not necessarily be
realistic. In general, the right side of the stage is the interior or the
apartment; the left side, the office of a company. The front downstage
area is used as corridors, streets and a park. Though the space between
the audience and the interior of the apartment is vacant, it is imagined
that there is a wall standing there. The stage in front of the interior
is also used as the corridor of the apartment. When, outside of the present
situation, the characters in this play reminisce or recall their memories,
they can have freedon of space.
A deep-voiced church bell tolls. The curtain rises. Before
us is the interior of an apartment. As the bell rings, Kim Sang-bom gets
out of bed, giving a yawn; he has just slipped on his trousers with his
upper-pajamas over his shoulder. Rubbing his eyes with one hand, he pulls
the window curtains apart. The golden sunshine of a clear morning floods
into his room. After he stretches himself to the limit, he does a few indoor
calisthentics. His shoulders throb with a deep pain and he has a backache.
At the age of 31 he seems visited by these phenomena too early. Then he
gathers various magazines which are scattered on the sofa and the floor.
He comes front stage and turns to the audience.
Sang-bom: This Sunday morning I feel very tired, because
I couldn't get to sleep all night long. But I don't have any particular
anxiety about my insomnia, nor did I drink too much either, the way a healthy
wage-earner usually would on a Saturday night. It's just because of these
damn magazines. I'm talking about these American magazines, for one of
which I paid two hundred won in the alley behind the Ch'onil Bank. Of course,
I can't read them, because they are written in English. I'm a college graduate,
but I have no interest in English. I don't think I lack a talent for language.
I would rather believe that the poor teaching methods of the current college
English teachers made me miserable like this. At least, I must have some
such pretext to avoid feeling too bad. In brief, I could not go to sleep
because of the numerous girlie photographs in these magazines; the nude
photographs of young ladies-these fascinating photographs which have been
slowly firing my imagination. I was absorbed in fantasies for one or two
hours, looking over these obscene photographs. While I was appreciating
these photos, the cocks crowed, those town criers of day-break, a bean-curd
peddler passed, and finally a garbage-truck came to the entrance of our
building to sweep away the American girls from my tired imagination, with
much other trash. What is left is this yawn.(Opens his mouth wide.) There
is another reason to buy these magazines. Yesterday, Saturday, I went to
a movie. One of the ideal pleasures of the world is that of men and women
enjoying themselves together. God did have some reason in creating such
a pair. And most other people went to see the movie together, in pairs,
but I went alone-I haven't any girl to go with. The story of the movie
concerned a passionate love. After seeing it, I felt something awfully
strange. So, I wandered all about Chong-no street by myself, and then I
found myself being pushed into the crowd on the Myongdong streets, glancing
at women's faces and bodies going to and from the Western dress shops.
At last I came to the alley behind the Ch'onil Bank to pick up these two
copies of different American magazines. Hence I had no choice but to fantasize
until 3 o'clock this morning, looking at these photos.(Again he walks toward
the room.) I am still a bachelor. At the age of thirty-one I am aware that
this is nothing to be proud of. But this is an inevitable true fact. I
have had little chance to be with girls; I do not have enough courage to
know and visit them. As a result, I cannot help myself; I can only buy
Though sometimes I've had the chance, I did not have
enough nerve. For example, this has been the case with Miss Pak living
on the fourth floor.
(Pak Yong-Ja, carrying a Kimch'i pot,* enters from left
of the stage and knocks on an imaginary door).
(Sang-Bom opens the door.)
Yong-ja: How are you, Mr. Kim?
Sang-bom: Just fine
(Awkwardness between the two.)
Yong-ja: Here... I brought some Kimch'i for you. Since
I heard that you cook for yourself... My mother wanted me give you this...
Sang-bom:...I don't know your mother well.
Yong-ja: Are you...? We live in apartment 43. My name
is Pak Yong-ja.
Sang-bom:...Yes. I remember you well. I'm Kim Sang-bom.
I saw you in church. You're in the choir, aren't you?
Yong-ja: Yes. I saw you in church also. So, take this
Sang-bom: (Accepting the Kimch'i pot) Ah, thank you!...
(Though he has accepted the Kimch'i pot, he is embarrassed
Yong-ja: Beautiful day! It's really like an autumn day,
Sang-bom: Yes, it is. The weather's O.K., though it may
be cloudy this afternoon, because a high-pressure system from Mongolia
is resting over this area...
Yong-ja:...Well, I have to go.
(Yong-ja goes out.)
Ah!... I say... I will enjoy this... (to the audience)
Yes! This is the way things worked out. I don't know why I had to talk
about that high pressure system from Mongolia. In fact, fine weather simply
meant that she wanted to come into my room and talk with me. How come the
first conversation between a man and wowan has to start with "beautiful
weather, isn't it?" or "the weather's fine, isn't it?" All kinds of beautiful
dialogue and gestures which I have designed, looking over those nude photographs,
are frozen before a girl in reality. At any rate, thanks to this girl,
Pak Yong-ja, living in apartment 43, once every week a Kimch'i pot comes
into my room.
Dear me! It's already close to eleven o'clock. I have
to go to church.(He takes his jacket and combs his hair).
In the alley just behind this apartment there is a church.
About a month ago, I was so bored... well, I don't know why Sunday is so
boring... at any rate, being so bored, I went to the church. The sound
of the ladies'choir flowing from the church is lovely, isn't it?
And I went to the church, just to see the girls. Sitting
in a rear seat, I formed the habit of appreciating the faces and bodies
of the women sitting around me and the sweet young girls in the choir.
Then, one day I happened to meet the president of my company. Well, I discovered
he is an elder in this church. I wonder, does money always go with religion?
The president welcomed me. He even praised me as a commendable member of
his company. Being in a predicament, I became a forced Christian churchgoer.
All of a sudden, the "hobby" of going to church to see girls changed into
a "duty." When he asked me whether I came to church every Sunday, I told
him that I'd been coming only sometimes. He wanted me to attend every Sunday.
I had no choice. Indeed he is my benefactor. It is this very president
who hired me as a probationary employee and promoted me to full-time regular
employment. I came to know the president through this peculiar circumstance
at the church.(He produces toilet paper from his rear pocket and shows
it to the audience.)
This toilet-paper has formed a connection between us.
I say, this toilet paper with which we blow our nose or go to the rest-room.
(Shafts of light are focused on the office, stage left.
The business manager sits back against his arm-chair, reading the newspaper.
Sang-bom takes a seat behind a small desk at his left. He uses his abacus
and turns the pages of an account-book.)
Yong-min: Mr. Kim! Do you have a cigarette?
Sang-bom: Cigarette? I don't know how to smoke.
Yong-min: You see one over there! Bring it to me, please.
Sang-bom: Yes, sir!
(Sang-bom goes to the table and brings the cigarette
to him. Yong-min accepts it and leisurely lights up.)
Yong-min: Though you don't smoke, at least you should
be polite enough to suggest it to the smoker!
Sang-bom: I will remember it next time, sir!
Yong-min: What am I, Sang-bom?
Sang-bom: What?... You're the business manager.
Yong-min: What's my name?
Sang-bom:...Bae...manager Bae. Sir!
Yong-min: Hmph! There you are! Although you're only a
probationary employee, at least you should know the name of your immediate
boss. Listen! My name is Pae Yong-min
Sang-bom: I will never forget it, sir!
Yong-min: Consider yourself lucky. I'm not disciplining
you for this.
Sang-bom: (A few minutes later.) Sir, did you serve in
the army for a long time?
Yong-min: Yes, a pretty long time. I was discharged from
the army as a major.
(Sang-bom continues to work. A few minutes later Song
A-mi comes out from the president's office.)
A-mi: (Sitting on the sofa) Our president is depressed.
A-mi: He got a call from the Chong-no police station.
One of our people got into a big fight in a bar. Some windows were smashed...
the legs of a dinner table were broken... The bar was totally destroyed.
He's now chewing out the general manager on the phone because of it.
Yong-min: What's embarrassing is that our president is
an elder in a church...
A-mi: Ah, how disgraceful it is! Did you join them for
Yong-min: I joined them for a while early in the evening.
Then I went home.
(The door flies open and the president bursts in, in
a fury. But he doesn't say anything. He stalks about for a while and goes
out. He's on his way to the restroom. Whenever he gets angry, he goes to
the men's room.)
A-mi: Why did they drink so much like that? Instead of
a curfew hour, there should be a liquor prohibition.
Yong-min: I say, agreed. If they drink wine moderately,
it can be rather good for their health... Mr. Kim, do you drink too?
Sang-bom: Hum? I don't know how to drink.
A-mi: Mr. Kim, didn't you go to the party last night?
Sang-bom: I am... not yet... qualified to participate
in that kind of party, because I am only a probationary employee...
Yong-min: Other than you, who else in the world calls
himself only a probationary employee every time he speaks.
A-mi: If they hire a man, he should be a regular employee.
What is this probationary employment anyway? Why do they want to make such
Yong-min: That kind of... probationary employment system....
(watching A-mi's expression)... was created by the general manager, Pak.
Sang-bom: Was it the general manager's idea?
(There is a change in A-mi's expression. She continues
to work, clearing her throat. Then the president returns.)
President: Hell, no toilet paper in our men's room? What
is our company, only a bunch of drunkards? It's become chaos around here.
Now tell me, why can't I find any toilet paper in our
(Sang-bom stands and pull out some toilet paper from
his pocket and offers it to the president.)
Sang-bom: This is only poor Korean-made toilet paper,
(President is about to go out, crunching it in his hand,
but turns again)
President: I say...
President: Call the general manager and tell him to fire
this man named Yu Pong-il. He's in jail. He's a no-good lout. He lies around
drunk all day long. He's the one who's spoiled the atmosphere of our company.
He's stirring up one incident after another. This is one company that will
not tolerate drunkards!
Yong-min: Sir!...... Mr. Yu Pong-il is capable enough
to have won a prize in the national abacus calculation contest.... He is
one of the best interpreters of the regulations of the Department of Finance.
If you forgive him once...
President: (To Sang-bom.) What did you say your name
Sang-bom: Yes, sir! (He gathers himself and replies in
a loud voice.) I am a probationary employee, Kim, Sang-bom sir!
President: How much do you drink?
Sang-bom: I don't drink at all, sir!
President: (To A-mi) I say, tell them to promote this
young man to regular employment in place of that drunkard.
(The president goes out.)
Sang-bom: (He produces more toilet paper from his pocket
and shows it to the audience.) Now! you see? Thank Heaven! Because of this
5 won worth of toilet paper, I have become a full-time regular employee
of this company. Let me say, first, thanks to some of this toilet paper
from the men's room, and second, thanks to my church-going to stare at
the girls, I won the president's favor. "Life is unpredictable! Hope may
rise even from despair." This is what one of my old home-room teachers
used to tell us. Originally he loved literature. Now he has given up not
only his teaching job but also literature.
And he is involved in a business selling sollong-t'ang*
soup... Well, as he used to say life is unpredictable... Who knows what
may rise up from a miserable soup bowl? Last Sunday, I say, the president
was even kind enough to visit this shabby room after church.
(President comes in, carrying a Bible and hymn book together
under his arm.)
Sang-bom: Though my place is somewhat humble...... please
have a seat, sir!
President: All right...... do you live alone?
Sang-bom: Yes, sir!
President: You mean you're not married?
Sang-bom: No, sir! Because I am living with the love
of God, I am not lonely, sir!
President: Good boy!
Sang-bom: Would you like a cup of coffee... sir?
President: I don't smoke.
President: I don't smoke. What about you?
Sang-bom: I... drink...
President: Drink?... Oh, you're talking about coffee!
I thought you were talking about tobacco. Don't bother with it. Soon I
have to leave. By the way, where are you from?
Sang-bom: Seoul, sir!
President: Then, why do you live here?
Sang-bom: My house is in Ch'angsin-dong. But I want to
live an independent life...
President: Both of your parents are alive...?
Sang-bom: Yes, sir!
President: What does your father do, Sang-bom
Sang-bom: Yes, my father... tells fortunes.
Sang-bom: Yes sir! There is a fortuneteller's house called
"the Turtle House" on the hill in Ch'angsin-dong. It's run by my father.
President:...Ah, your father tells fortunes. Do you have
Sang-bom: Yes, sir! My eldest brother is a professor
of Engineering at a university in Inch'on. He tells me he's doing research
President: Rockets? What kind of rocket research is there
in Korea? He must be a college professor.
Sang-bom: Yes, he is, sir!
President: And then...?
Sang-bom: My second brother was killed, sir!
President: Oh my God! That's too bad. Indeed, life and
death depend upon Heaven. I also lost my only son! Just six months ago.
He died six months after he married. Miss Song, working in my office, is
my daughter-in-law. Even though my son died, she still helps me. It's God's
Sang-bom: My second brother was killed by accident. A
President: A shotgun?
Sang-bom: Yes, sir! He was really crazy about hunting.
President: Ha! I like hunting also. Hunting is not killing...
but good exercise. Indeed, it is a sport.
Sang-bom: I agree, sir! Would you like to see the shotgun
which my brother used?
President: You have the shotgun here?
Sang-bom: Yes, sir?
(Sang-bom enters the room at stage left and brings out
a shotgun.) This is the gun, sir.
President: Ah! (He stands holding the shotgun and aiming
it stylishly.) Though it's a little rusty, it seems a good gun. It's made
in the U.S.A.?
Sang-bom: Yes, sir! He bought it from a G.I., sir.
President: This is all right, though mine is Belgian,
Sang-bom: Bug? sir!
President: I tell you, the best shotguns are made in
Belgium. Sang-bom, do you know how to use a shotgun?
Sang-bom: I've shot it once or twice but still I'm very
President: Do you know how to take care of it?
Sang-bom: Yes, sir! Because caring for it is a simple
President: I have a shotgun in my office. I want you
to come from time to time and keep it in good shape.
Sang-bom: Yes, I will remember, sir.
President: The shotgun is only for shooting animals,
how did it come to shoot a man!... You told me that your second brother
was killed that way... don't you have any other brothers?
Sang-bom: I'm the next brother, sir. And after me there's
one more brother. He's now preparing to find a job. After he graduated
from junior college, he took the entrance exams at several companies. But...
he still hasn't passed...
President: If he works hard, he will make it. All your
brothers are Christian, I suppose?
President: I say, all of your brothers believe in God?
Sang-bom: No... sir. I am the only one...
President: (Standing up.) Why don't you encourage them
to go to church? If they go to church many things can... you know what
I mean, Sang-bom! First of all, church teaches the virtue of self-sacrifice.
A self-sacrificing spirit is important for all human beings. Speaking of
self-sacrifice, I want to know how you feel about the atmosphere in our
Sang-bom: Well, I don't know, sir.
President: Any complaints among our people?
Sang-bom: I don't know, sir.
President: If there are any complaints or other things
I can't detect, please let me know as soon as possible. The best way you
can help me is to keep me informed about that kind of thing. It's sort
of service-spirit, isn't it? Now tell me, have you see any other drinkers
in the office?
Sang-bom: I'll keep my eyes open, sir.
President: Well, I'm going.
(He walks out the imaginary door and exits stage left.
Sang-bom makes a low bow to him from the middle of stage.)
Sang-bom: The president has made me into a spy. I feel
a little ashamed. But this is my only chance for success in life. So far
I have had my troubles in school, in sociey... I'm afraid my future will
be nothing but troubles. In my college days I left home and cooked for
myself. At that time, clutching my stomach, I studied all night long. But
my friends spent only an hour or so preparing their material to cheat in
the exams and then went to sleep. Their grades were far better than mine.
I found a job in a steel factory in Inch'on, but after two years I was
fired. I was involved in a demonstration against the merger of two steel
factories. My president and general manager ordered me to do it. The general
manager forced me to hold a placard at the front of our rally, and I did
as he wanted. Afterwards I was beaten by demonstrators from the other side.
I was knocked cold. When I opened my eyes I found myself in jail. I was
branded as the main agitator of the demonstration! Insisting I could not
be, I tried to straighten things out with them, but the president requested
me to leave his factory. He said that it was not the time to make things
clear. After that, I was forced to come to Seoul and become a probationary
employee in this comapny. That's my past... Even though I've become a full-time
regular staff member and taken a room in this building, the trouble from
other people is just about the same as before. I've never tried to profit
by inflicting trouble on other people. I say, I don't know why I should
have been in troble like this. There's a man living in the next room. I
don't know what he does. But sometimes I see girls coming to his room.
Sometimes they sleep with him. There's nothing except a large bed in his
room. So far I've never seen him go out to work in the morning. This fellow
also causes me trouble.(Tank comes out and knocks on Sang-bom's door.)
Come in, Please.
(Tank comes in.)
Tank: Why don't we get to know each other? I live just
next door to you.
Sang-bom: Yes, my name is Kim Sang-bom. Please have a
Tank: What company do you work for?
Sang-bom: It's a steel company on Chong-no.
Tank: A steel company?
Sang-bom: A place where steel... iron is made.
Tank: Oh! A steel mill! I know what you mean. I'm just
here to get a light.
(Hyon So-hi comes in dressed only in a night gown. She
looks sleepy. A cigarette dangles from her lips.)
So-hi: Did you get a light?
Sang-bom: My name is Kim, Sang-bom
So-hi: Hi! I'm Miss Hyon. My first name is So-Hi.
Tank: I say, a lighter please, if you have it.
Sang-bom: Yes, I have.
(He takes a lighter from his pocked and flicks it. Tank
and So-hi light their cigarettes from it.)
So-hi: Thank you.
Tank: Here, have a cigarette.
Sang-bom: I don't smoke.
Tank: Oh? What do you carry a lighter for?
Sang-bom: You're called Tank?
So-hi: This guy's name is Tank
(Sang-bom laughs in a loud voice.)
Tank: Yea, my name is Tank. But what do you want?
So-hi: Whether he carries a lighter or not, what's it
to you? Don't waste time.
Tank: You know, you're not a bad looking fellow! I say...
what did you say your name was?
Sang-bom: Kim Sang-bom.
Tank: Mr. Kim! I'm sorry to ask... by any chance... do
you happen to have some coffee?
Tank: Since I drank a bit last night, I have an unpleasant
taste in my mouth.
Sang-bom: Yes... I may have some coffee. I may have some
coffee in the kitchen which I left boiling this morming...
Tank: If I may ask, please lend me the pot too, so that
we can make a little for ourselves.
Sang-bom:...By all means. (Sang-bom walks into the kitchen.
Tank makes a curious gesture to So-hi showing that he is the greatest in
the world. Looking through the magazines scattered on the couch, So-hi
compares her figure with the nude photographs in it. Sang-bom brings out
Tank: Ah! Thanks. We'll be seeing you often.
So-hi: Tank, do you have sugar?
Tank: Ah! I forgot, Mr. Kim. Please lend me some sugar.
(He again enters the kitchen and brings out a box of
sugar to give So-hi.)
So-hi: Do you live alone?
Tank: Yes, I live alone.
So-hi:...Don't you have a chick?
Sang-bom: (Shamefully.) Ah... I don't.
(In his embarrassment, he takes away the magazines.)
So-hi: Thanks a lot.
(Tank and So-hi step out together, looking like lovers.)
Sang-bom: (To the audience.) You see? I am always troubled
like this. Not only do that strange man, Tank, living next door, and his
mistress, So-hi, bother me, but the manager of this building does the same
thing. Even at night I can't be safe from this kind of nuisance.
(The manager, drunk, knocks on Sang-bom's door, and enters
Manager: Ah, Mr. Sang-bom! You're not asleep yet.
Sang-bom: I was asleep, but your knock woke me up.
Manager: Ah, is that right? Life is short. How is it
you can sleep when life is so short? (In a sentimental tone.) "To close
your eyes is to die, to open your eyes is to live." Do you know whose saying
Sang-bom: No. I don't know much about literature... Who
Manager: I said it. I, the manager of this building!
That is what this manager said. You have a pocket notebook?
Sang-bom: Notebook? What do you mean by that? You mean,
Manager: Yes, if you have a pocket notebook, please jot
down my words. If you record my words once a day, you'll make a greater
book than the Bible in five years. Because I always speak the truth.
Sang-bom: You must be very drunk. You look it.
Manager: Drunk? Yes, I am drunk! I say life is too tedious
not to be drunk. If it weren't for drink, what kind of entertainment world
I have to live for? When I return home, what's waiting for me is that...
my wife and the six dull faces of her clinging relatives. Twenty years...
we've been married twenty years and we still don't have a child, not one!
Perhaps it's my fault. My wife insists that it's not her fault. Nevertheless...
with no child of my own, why should I feed six of my inlaws? But that's
how it is, dawn it! It's my fate!
Sang-bom: You're too drunk. Not long ago you were in
the hospital because of your heart... You should be careful.
Manager: I wish I could have another heart attack-and
die this time. It's what I am, a goddamn hotel manager.
Sang-bom: Please go to your wife. She's waiting for you.
Manager: She is not waiting for me. What she waits for
is the money-the money to feed her own family, her relatives. Let me sleep
here, please. Today Mr. Sang-bom is the manager, I am his guest!(He takes
out money from an inner pocket.) This is 50 thousand won! I earned this
money with great difficulty. Please take care of this for me. If I take
this home, my wife will surely snatch it away immediately.
Sang-bom: Listen, don't be like this...
Manager: You're my buddy. Why don't you accept a request
from a buddy? It is not too difficult to let me sleep here and to keep
this money for me. Please hold onto the money for me for a while! You are
my buddy, aren't you? Sure you are! Buddy!
Indeed! Friendship, that's very complicated. You can
maintain a good friendship with a man only if you remain detached from
him. If you get too close to him, he may turn out to be an enemy. The meaning
of "friend" is not "close" but "distant." Those people with whom you make
friends, if you keep your distance, they'll become true friends. If you
get too close, your friendship will break up easily. Moreover, friends
are a stupid thing! To make them happy, you have to always be praising
them. If you blame them, they forsake you. Those fellows are happy only
when you praise them. Otherwise, they forsake you. In Korea a friend is
a burden, a strain on your mind.
If you make friends, keep them at a distance. At a distance,
I say! Well... shall I call my wife? No, she's probably not even waiting
up for me. Forget about it. Let me go to sleep.
(Sang-bom walks into the bed room, supporting the manager
by his arm. A few minutes later he comes out again, panting, sweating heavily.
He picks up a money bag from the teatable and turns to the audience.)
Sang-bom: Even this money bag I have to take care of...
By all means I should get married. Since I live alone, people try to take
advantage of me in many ways. I have nearly no money for marriage, but
Miss Pak on the third floor shows some special kindness to me. What's more,
her mother, Mrs. Mun does too.
(Mrs. Mun enters the room carrying a Kimch'i-pot.)
Mrs. Mun: Ah, I'm glad to see you're here!
Sang-bom: How are you, Mrs. Mun?
Mrs. Mun: Here's some kimch'i, This time my daughter
herself prepared it. My daughter looks cute, aristocratic, don't you think?
She's a smart one, all right, and oh, how she can cook! She is working
hard. I say, what do you think about my daughter's skin? Really white,
Sang-bom: Yes. I suppose it is.
Mrs. Mun: Ah, the other day when we went to a public
bath, all the other people stared at her. What soft, white skin my daughter
Mrs. Mun: This time she added some raw chestnut and ginger
to the Kimch'i. Well, I'd better go now. I forgot something! I take it
you're free tonight?
Sang-bom: Yes, man
(Mrs. Mun exits.)
Yong-ja's mother seems to like me, doesn't she? Sometimes
she and her mother appear in my dream as a pair of chop sticks. Yes, Miss
Pak and her mother have been transformed into two chopsticks that try to
pick me up like this.(He holds up two fingers to the audience.) Miss Pak
gets close enough to me to enter my room even in the night.
(Pak Yong-ja knocks on the imaginary door and enters
Yong-ja: I have some roast chestnuts for you. Do you
Sang-bom: What I like the most is steamed bread, but
roast chestnuts will be all right. Have a seat, please.
(Yong-ja sits and peels the roast chestnuts.)
Did you buy these on the street?
Yong-ja: No. I found some chestnuts at home and roasted
them for you.
(Yong-ja peels the chestnuts and gives them to Sang-bom.)
Sang-bom: I'm O.K.!
Yong-ja: please take this!
Sang-bom: No, you take them. I'm O.K.
Yong-ja: Oh, dear me! Please take them.
(Sang-bom eats a roast chestnut, awkwardly, with his
Isn't it sweet?
Sang-bom: It's not well done, but sweet enough.
Yong-ja: I say...... Are you busy tonight?
Sang-bom: No, I'm not.
Yong-ja: Then let's go see a movie. We can go to a movie.
My mother got three tickets somewhere.
Sang-bom: What kind of movie is it?
Yong-ja: I have no idea. My mother bought the tickets.
She's coming here soon. She's changing her clothes.
Sang-bom: Is this movie really interesting?
Yong-ja: Well, who knows?
(Sang-bom takes a coin from his pocket.)
Sang-bom: This coin is worth five won. I'm telling our
fortune with this. I can tell whether this movie is interesting or not
by tossing this coin.(Sang-bom flips the coin, catches it in his palm,
looks at it.) Ah! It's heads. The movie will be interesting.
Yong-ja: How can you tell a fortune correctly with such
a poor method?
Sang-bom: It always tells the truth. My father tells
fortunes philoso-phically. But I do it with this coin. Sometimes I do it...
(At this time Kim Sang-hak turns away at stage left and
knocks on imaginary door.)
You have come too soon.
(Yong-ja stands up to open the door. Sang-hak enters
Oh, dear me!
Sang-hak: Thank you.
Sang-bom: Ah, brother!
Sang-hak: Ah, I am glad to see you at home.
Sang-bom: When did you come from Inch'on?
Sang-hak: I took the evening train. Because tomorrow
is the anniversary of our university's founding. I got two days off.
Sang-bom: Ah, Miss Pak. This is my elder brother. He's
teaching at a university in Inch'on.
Sang-hak: Glad to know you. My name is Sang-hak.
Yong-ja: My... my name is Pak Yong-ja.
Sang-bom: Since things are a little dull in Inch'on these
days, I want to see my brother...
Sang-bom: Brother, did you eat supper?
Sang-hak: Yes, I had supper in Inch'on.
Yong-ja: Then, a cup of coffee?
Yong-ja: I'll make coffee.
Sang-bom: No, let me do it...
Yong-ja: You just enjoy talking together.
(Yong-ja exits stage left.)
Sang-hak: This is too bad, I am sorry...
If I'd known you were with your girl, I wouldn't have
Sang-bom: Oh, no! She lives on the third floor... I have
nothing to do with her. She said she's going to see a movie. Well, how's
Sang-hak: The same as usual...
Sang-bom: Are you still working on rockets?
Sang-hak: I completed the second phase shooting... But
because of the damn research funds...
(Mrs. Mun, Yong-ja's mother, comes and knocks on his
Mrs. Mun: Oh, no!... Where is my daughter...?
Sang-bom: Please come in. She's in the kitchen.
Mrs. Mun: Is she?
Sang-bom: Yes, she's making coffee...
Mrs. Mun:...Ah... since she's reached the marriageable
age, she should learn to do kitchen chores.
Sang-bom: This is my brother. He's a college professor
in Inch'on. This is Miss Pak's mother.
Sang-hak: Glad to meet you. I am Kim Sang-hak.
Mrs. Mun: Yes... What a smart man! All your brothers
(Yong-ja comes out.)
Yong-ja: The coffee will be ready, soon. I say, what's
the title of the movie, mother?
Mrs. Mun: (Taking out the tickets from her handbag.)
Ah... are these...
Yong-ja: (She snatches the tickets from her mother and
Sang-bom: "Apartment?" I saw that movie last Saturday.
It's a good movie. Jack Lemmon's in it, playing the fool.
Mrs. Mun: (discouraged) You saw the movie already?
Sang-bom: Well, I say, brother, did you see this movie?...
Sang-hak: Me? When did I have time to see it?
Sang-bom: (to Mrs. Mun) I can't see the same movie twice,
can I? My elder brother hasn't seen it. Would you mind going to see the
movie with him?
Mrs. Mun:......O.K. If you saw it already...(with reluctance
to Sang-hak) Please come... with us.
Sang-bom: Good. Well then, after enjoying the movie,
please come back here, brother. You stay with me tonight. Miss Pak, you
go ahead with my brother.
Sang-hak: Well, shall we go now?
(Three people exeunt. Sang-hak returns.)
Sang-hak: I have a few hundred won with me... but...
who knows, something may happen. If you have money, give me a few hundred.
Sang-bom: I think I have some money.
(He gives his brother a few hundred won after feeling
in his pocket.)
Sang-hak: Well! I'll see you after the movie. Is this
Sang-bom: Ah, it's very interesting.
(Sang-hak walks out.)
(To the audience) That night when my elder brother came
back from the movie, I gave him some wine, which I don't usually drink
myself. My elder brother is 35 years old, he is not married, partly because
he's been busy with his work... and partly because he doesn't have the
money to marry.
It will be a little sad if I marry Miss Pak before he
gets married... but from every point of view, I've thought, it would be
better for me to get married. And I've started to save money little by
little. From something in the way, she talks, I think she's put aside a
considerable amount of money for her marriage.
About one month after that evening, my brother visited
me again, this time with our younger brother, Sang-ch'ol.
(Sang-hak and Sang-ch'ol enter the room and sit on the
Sang-bom: Well, are you ready for your exam?
Sang-ch'ol: I sleep only five hours a night. I pour all
my time into my studies. Yet too many people have applied, I'm afraid...
Sang-hak: In case that company does hire you, what's
Sang-ch'ol: I don't know. Is that important? What is
important is that I pass the examination and find a job.
Sang-hak: Yes, you'll be relieved if you pass that exam.
Sang-ch'ol: But then what do I do? Do you know any other
way to find a job?
Sang-bom: Well, this time do you expect to pass?
Sang-ch'ol: According to Father's predictions, I have
a good possibility to pass.
Sang-bom: Our father's fortune-telling? Don't be silly.
Father's fortune-telling is his job. You don't realize that yet?
Sang-ch'ol: Indeed, the number of people who come to
see Father has drastically decreased.
Sang-hak: How could a fortune-teller's son be successful
in rocket research?
Sang-bom: We didn't come here to discuss this, but...
a month from now will be Father's sixty-first birthday.
Sang-bom: Sixty-first birthday? He's that old already?
Sang-bom: Time flies...
Sang-ch'ol: Well, the three of us must have a talk about
Sang-bom: I think so. Now that most of his friends have
Sang-ch'ol: According to Mother's estimate, 30 thousand
won will be needed to celebrate his birthday.
Sang-bom: Thirty thousand won?
Sang-ch'ol: That's a minimum amount they say.
Sang-hak: Well....after taking out the miscellaneous
items, only one thousand is left from my salary. Take out the boarding
house expenses and only 500 is left!
Sang-bom: The salary of a nobody at the bottom like me
is even more meager...
Sang-ch'ol: We can send invitation cards to our friends.
If about a hundred people come, we can collect 30 thousand, if we figure
on 300 won per person...
Sang-hak: Friends? A hundred? Don't talk so foolishly.
Sang-bom: What other choice do we have?
(An awkward silence follows.)
Sang-ch'ol: Brothers, did you listen to the boxing match
on the radio between Yun Kang-jon and Saruma last?
Sang-bom: I didn't
Sang-ch'ol: It was really amazing.
Sang-hak: I listened to it at home. Saruma was down in
the seventh round, wasn't he?
Sang-ch'ol: Ah! Yun Kang-jon was tough, really tough.
Sang-hak: It's a miracle that Korea has produced such
Sang-bom: He's said to be only 19 years old! Is that
Sang-ch'ol: No, 22 years old.
Sang-hak: In our school there is one boxer...he said
that Kang is 22 years old.
Sang-bom: Our business manager is a boxing fanatic. He
said Kang is 19 years old.
Sang-ch'ol: You're both wrong. He is twenty years old.
I saw it in a newspaper story about the fight.
Sang-hak: I was told one of my students practiced boxing
with Yun Kang-jon. Surely he must be 22.
Sang-ch'ol: Indeed! I've never missed a boxing match
on the radio... I insist Yun Kang-jon is 20 years old.
(Another awkward silence.)
This year a Vietnamese girl became Miss Universe.
Sang-bom: I thought she was a Thai girl.
Sang-hak: Whether she is a Vietnamese or a Thai, she
must be Oriental. These days the Oriental girls can beat the Western women!
Sang-hak: What... bosom...
Sang-hak: Ah, this... (pointing at his own breast)...I
am talking about this.
Sang-ch'ol: Ah, the breast!
Sang-hak: Right. The size of it is 36 inches around.
Sang-bom: No. it's 35 inches. I read it in the papers.
Sang-hak: I saw it in TIME magazine. 35 inches, it said.
Sang-ch'ol: Both of you are wrong. It's 38 inches.
Sang-hak: 38 inches? Are you crazy? Do you know how big
that is, 38 inches?
Sang-ch'ol: That's why she became Miss Universe.
Sang-bom: Perhaps it's 35 inches.
Sang-ch'ol: I said no! It's 38 inches.
Sang-hak: You are obsessed with the 38th parallel. That's
why you say so. Perhaps it's really 37 inches.
Sang-ch'ol: I said 38 inches,
(Another awkward silence.)
...I say... think about what we can do for Father's birthday.
Where can we get 30 thousand?
Sang-hak: Well...... It's quite late. Shall we go home?
Sang-ch'ol: When can we get together again?
(Sang-hak stands up and walks toward the door.)
Sang-hak: I say, let's go home.
(Sang-ch'ol also stands up and follows his brother.)
Hey, Sang-ch'ol, you go ahead and wait for me outside.
I have something to talk over with Sang-bom
Sang-ch'ol: O.K.! Goodbye, Sang-bom.
(Sang-ch'ol goes out.)
Sang-hak: I say, we have to celebrate Father's birthday,
Sang-bom: Right, it's really a big problem.
Sang-hak: I... I may get married within about a month.
Sang-bom: What? Marriage? Ah, congratulations! You should
have married earlier... I also intend to get married. But it would be a
little bit awkward to get married earlier than you do... Now everything's
worked out just fine.
Sang-hak: That's why I'm telling you. I'd like to invite
some guests to Father's birthday, but since my wedding will take place
about a month after Father's birthday, I couldn't invite the same guests
Sang-bom: I'm afraid you're right...
Sang-hak: Since it's this way, I want you to take the
responsibility for celebrating Father's birthday.
Sang-bom: I understand what you mean. I'll talk to my
boss about our difficult situation......
Sang-hak: Please do as you like.
Sang-bom: By the way, what kind of girl are you going
Sang-hak: You know the girl very well.
Sang-hak: I'm talking about the Miss Pak who lives upstairs.
Because I found she is good enough as a housekeeper......
Sang-bom: What, are you talking about Pak Yong-ja
Sang-hak: Right. You have no objection, I hope.
Sang-bom: Me?... oh,... no...
Sang-hak: (Looking at his watch.) Oh, dear! I'm in danger
of being late! Well, then, I'll be in touch you in the next two or three
Sang-bom: Has she agreed to marry you?
Sang-hak: Of course. She came down to Inch'on to visit
me a few times. We're decided to skip the engagement. We've also decided
to have a very simple wedding. It was because we went to the movie on that
night that we've gotten together now. Well, so long...
(Sang-hak steps out. Sang-bom cannot move for a while.
He roots himself where he stands.)
Sang-bom: (Showing regret rather than resignation toward
the apparent loss of Yong-ja.)
Oh dear!... What a fate!... I'm destined not only to
be deprived of my bride but to pay the expense for Father's birthday. I'm
at a loss for words. I'm 31. I have at most about 20 years to go... When
I think about living with pain like this for another twenty years, my head
Up till now I've always acted correctly, I've lived within
the boundaries of common sense.
When I was in Inch'on something very strange happened.
It was such a hot summer day that I went to the beach. From a distance
I saw a fully-dressed young lady throwing herself into the water from a
rock, and thought it must be a suicide. Tossing aside my straw hat I ran
to save her from drowning. I couldn't understand why such a beautiful young
girl would want to kill herself. When I pulled her onto the sand, she slapped
my cheek instead of saying "Thank you." Then a policeman arrested me and
put me in jail. So you see, my kind of common sense has become useless
in this society. From now on, I know I should tie a heavy stone to someone
who's drowning. Instead of offering my seat on the bus, I will cruelly
kick aside anyone who stands in my path. Not only will I shun common sense,
I'll ignore conventional morality as well...
First I'll apply a new kind of common sense at my company.
(The office, stang left, lights up. Song A-mi is fixing
her make-up on the sofa. Sang-bom brings out a shotgun and begins cleaning
A-mi: Be careful with that. You've taken all the shells
ou, I hope?
Sang-bom: Yes, I unloaded it.
A-mi: Do you go hunting very oftern?
Sang-bom: When the president goes hunting, sometime I
go with him.
A-mi: Are you... still single?
Sang-bom: I still haven't been able to get married...
By the way, aren't you going to re-marry?
A-mi: Me?...... it's been only eight months since my
Sang-bom: You're talking about our president's son, aren't
A-mi: Don't make me sad by making me talk about my marriage.
I still cannot forget him.
Sang-bom: I'm sorry. I won't do it again.
(The telephone rings. Sang-bom answers it, still holding
the shotgun.) Yes? Who? You're looking for Song A-mi? Yes, she's here.(He
thrusts the shotgun at her instead of the phone.) It's general manager
Pae. Ah! I'm sorry.(He gives her the phone.)
A-mi: Yes, it's me. Him? He's an accountant, Mr. Kim.
Sang-bom no, no problems... What? Right now? The president is still in
his office... yes, I know. And then? Don't make me wait alone, please...
(She hangs up and looks at her watch. She glances at
Sang-bom. Then she steps into the president's office.)
Sang-bom: (To the audience) A minute ago she was saying
she couldn't forget her husband who died eight months ago. When general
manager Pae calls, she's ready to go out with him. Now, from my own common
sense view, such a thing couldn't possibly happen. But I also have to live
with the common sense of these other people, what I call the NEW COMMON
(A-mi comes out from the presiden's office and exits
stage left, carrying her handbag. Sang-bom aims the muzzle of the shotgun
at her back. The door opens and the president comes out. Sang-bom turns
and in an accidental reflex points the gun at the president.)
President: Come on now, boy!
Sang-bom: Ah! I'm very sorry. Now that I've cleaned it,
suddenly I feel like firing it...
President: (Taking the gun and looking it over.) Yes,
good work! Where's our business manager. Mr. Pae?
Sang-bom: Manager went to the Basket tea room with five
President: Five thousand? Not company money?
Sang-bom: Yes. He ordered me to give him five thousand.
President: And why did he have to go to the tea room
during business hours?
Sang-bom: (Reluctantly) It seems... a woman is waiting
for him... and... a while ago Miss Song, the secretary, was here...
President: She told me she had to see a dentist for a
toothache... Does manager Pae often draw his salary in advance?
Sang-bom: Well... Since he sometimes used to draw out
money without giving his signature... I don't know whether it's a loan
President: You keep a record of every won manager Pae
Sang-bom: Yes, sir... I will calculate exactly how much
President: Is this woman waiting in the tea room a callgirl?
Sang-bom: I have no idea, sir. But...
Sang-bom: Manager Pae really loves wine. Sometimes he
actually drinks wine even at lunch time.
President: How can he behave like that? He is in charge
of the finances of this company...
Sang-bom: Sir, I...don't...I say such a thing only to
you... just because I respect you and... simply I want to see this company
prosper more than any other person... and I report this thing to you. I'm
following the instructions which you gave me at church...
President: I know it. I understand you, boy. Keep up
the good work.
(The president goes into his office with his gun. Sang-bom
begins to work behind his desk. A few minutes later, Pae Yong-min comes
Yong-min: Anything happen while I was out?
Sang-bom: No, Sir.
(When Sang-bom sees Yong-min looking for a cigarette,
he picks it up nimbly from the table, gives it to him, and lights it for
Yong-min: The president is in?
Sang-bom: Yes, he seems to be in.
Yong-min: Ah, I can't bear my damn wife's "urgent requests!"
She forced me to lend five thousand won to her friend who's in the hospital
Sang-bom: You say... the lady who called you from the
tea room a little while ago is... your wife?
Yong-min: Right. Housewives should not come to their
husbands' offices. If they do come all they bring is trouble. It's highly
embarrassing to meet them in the office. Their visits are bad omens, bad
Sang-bom: (To the audience) Yes, he is unfortunate! Really
unfortunate. About a month after this trouble, the business manager was
forced to transfer to a branch in poor, rocky Kangwon province and I took
his place. All the people at the office are surprised that I have risen
This is the first result of giving up my original common
sense and taking on the new common sense.
I have one more thing to do. It is to take advantage
of the relationship between the widow, Song A-mi, the president's daughter-in-law,
and secretary; and general manager Pae. Thus I will open all possible doors
for my rise in the world with these my own hands, and kick them open with
these two feet.
(The office light turns out, the apartment interior lights
up. Sang-bom comes in and fastens a big cross on the wall. Mrs. Mun arrives
and knocks on the door. Sang-bom opens it.)
Sang-bom: Ah, how are you, Mrs. Mun?
Mrs. Mun: Glad to see you here. Ah, I've been so forgetful!
I've been so busy making preparations for my daughter's marriage, I haven't
had time to pickle Kimch'i for you.
Sang-bom: No problem. I understand you must be very busy
Mrs. Mun: You don't know yet?
Sang-bom: What do you mean?
Mrs. Mun: Ah! They say, our building manager died this
Sang-bom: Really? The manager died?
Mrs. Mun: He had a weak heart, you know...
Sang-bom: Another heart attack, you mean...
Mrs. Mun: Yes, he died of heart failure. That's so sad.
He's left a large family to support... So I'm thinking of collecting some
money from all tenants to show our sympathy for his bereaved family...
Sang-bom: That's a good idea.
Mrs. Mun: As soon as you're free, please see me in my
room toorrow morning.
Sang-bom: Yes, I will.
(Mrs. Mun is going out.) I say... how did he die?
Mrs. Mun: They say he collapsed and died immediately
while eating his supper.
Sang-bom: Without leaving any... He didn't leave a will?
Mrs. Mun: Don't talk about a will. One moment he was
alive and hearty, the next he was dead.
Sang-bom: Is that so! Then, I'll see you tomorrow morning.
Mrs. Mun: I still have many tenants to visit.
(Mrs. Mun goes out. From under the sofa Sang-bom removes
the money bag which the manager left in his care.) (To the audience) This
money! Fifty thousand! This is the precious property which the late manager
entrusted to me. Well, what should I do with this money? Since he collapsed
during dinner, it's almost certain he didn't have a will. Yes, he asked
me to keep this money secret. It's impossible that he told anyone about
By my old common sense I should return this to his widow,
but... no, now that I've abandoned my old common sense and am living by
A NEW COMMON SENSE, it is not necessary to return the money because from
the beginning he hated his wife. Me, he rather liked. Therefore, I'd better
keep this money for myself. This logic is irresistible.
(To the audience again.) So, I will use this money for
myself. Now, the next day I met my younger brother in a downtown tea room.
You know, my younger brother, the one who's preparing for the entrance
exams at that company with the peculiar name.
(Sang-ch'ol brings in a chair and takes his seat at stage
left from. Hyon So-hi brings in a small tea-table.)
So-hi: What kind of tea would you like?
Sang-ch'ol:...I say, I'm waiting for a man. I'd like
to take my tea wth him when he gets here.
(So-hi goes in. Sang-ch'ol takes a book from his pocket
and reads it, underlining with a pencil. A few minutes later, Sang-bom
brings in a chair and sits down.)
Sang-bom: Have you been waiting a long time?
Sang-bom: Even in the tea room, you have to study for
Sang-ch'ol: Yes, I have no choice.
Sang-bom: Have you taken tea?
Sang-ch'ol: If you hadn't come, I might be in trouble.
I'm broke, all I've got in my pocket is two bus tickets. Well, why did
you want me to come?
Sang-bom: (He calls out, turning his body.) Hey! Two
cups of pine juice, plaese!
Sang-ch'ol: It's expensive, remember, 50 won a cup...
Sang-bom: No problem. I'm a business manager now.
Sang-ch'ol: What? You? A business manager? Terrific!
How did it happen so fast?
Sang-bom: Our president took a liking to me. What's more,
I've mastered the secret of how to get along in the world.
Sang-ch'ol: You must be making twice as much.
Sang-ch'ol: Now, salary doesn't matter... brother! Let
me tell you. Now if you want to pass this so-called entrance examination...
I suggest you make some behind-the-scenes efforts.
Sang-ch'ol: What kind of efforts?
Mrs. Mun: You may have to spend a little money? You must
know that the world's like that.
(He pulls out some money from his inner pocket and places
it in Sang-ch'ol's hand.) I say, this is five thousand...
Sang-ch'ol: What, five thousand?
Sang-bom: Give them some money. The world is not so simple
as you think. The imporant thing is to get inside the dor. It doesn't matter
whether you get in though the front door or the rear door. Once you're
inside, however you get there, then there will be no problems.
Sang-ch'ol: Oh, no... I don't think I have the nerve
for that. Who should I give the money to? How do I do it?
Sang-bom: That's your problem. Think about it, Sang-ch'ol.
Sang-ch'ol: (Putting the money back on the table.) This
will make things even more complicated. I'm busy enough studying for the
entrance test. If I have to do that sort of thing too, things may become
Sang-bom: I say, don't study hard. Then you'll have time
to do it!
Sang-ch'ol: But... how can I take the exam without studying?
Sang-bom: You're burying your head in the sand! Be realistic!
You need a NEW COMMON SENSE! I say, A NEW COMMON SENSE!
Sang-bom: Forget about it, forget about it!
(Hyon So-hi comes out, carrying two glasses of juice.)
So-hi: Oh, my! Look at this money! Money all over the
Sang-ch'ol: That belongs to my elder brother! Don't touch
So-hi:...This gentleman... I saw him somewhere?
Sang-bom: What Ah,... where did you see me?
So-hi:...Ah... do come and see us often.
Sang-bom: O.K., I will.
(So-hi goes out, glancing back at the money roll. Sang-bom
and Sang-ch'ol take up their glasses and drink their juice.) I forgot!
(He takes out three rolls of bills and gives them to Sang-ch'ol.) This
is 30 thousand won... Please give this to Mother. She said 30 thousand
is needed to celebrate Father's 61st birthday.
(As Sang-bom is about to go into his room, Hyon So-hi
comes out from stage left.)
...How's it going, So-hi?
So-hi: Ah, hi!
(Hyon So-hi turns again, walks to stage right and returns.
She seems to be waiting for Tank. Sang-bom opens the door of his room and
enters. So-hi stalks about, waiting for Tank. Through the keyhole of the
imaginary door, Sang-bom peeps at So-hi. He is astonished to see her cheeks.
Disturbed, he paces to and fro in his room. Then he picks up the phone
in the corner and begins to dial.)
Sang-bom:...Hello, operator? Give me the business office
for this building please. Yes, is this the business office? Ah, Hello?
This is the business office? I'm calling because I have something to ask
you. I say... the man who lives in room 28... could you repeat that? Right.
He's called Tank. This morning I saw him packing and moving out. You say
he's moved out completely? Do you know where he's gone? You don't? Then
what is his room number? It is vacant? Yes. thanks a lot.
(Sang-bom hangs up, hesitates a while, opens the door.)
Sang-bom: Are you waiting for Tank?
Sang-bom: This morning... that man... called someone
in the business office of this building... He packed and moved out this
morning. They say they don't know where he's gone.
(As soon as So-hi hears this, she appears ready to faint.
Sang-bom clumsily holds her up.)
Ah... see this... Hello... let me see... Miss... Miss
(Sang-bom carries her into his room and puts her on the
sofa. He is perplexed, doesn't know what to do next.)
So-hi:...I say... please water... water...
Sang-bom: Water? Yes.
(Sang-bom rushes into the next room. Meanwhile So-hi
takes a few pills from her handbag and holds them in her palm. Sang-bom
brings a cup of water and gives it to her. As soon as she takes the glass
from him, she attempts to use the water to wash down the pills. Sang-bom
dives for her, grapples with her, takes the poison away. The glass falls
on the floor. Sang-bom stands awkwardly holding her against his chest with
Sang-bom: Calm... calm down please. You shouldn't do
that. If you die here, it will affect me too. They might think...
So-hi: He betrayed me!
Sang-bom: I say, please calm down.
So-hi: (Disengaging herself from Sang-bom.) Son of a
Sang-bom: What? I'm sorry.
So-hi: I'm not speaking of you.
Sang-bom: I understand.
So-hi: That bastard is the worst swindler in the world!
He robbed me! He took my money! Not only mine, but my friend's! He just
packed up and took off! He's a common criminal, that's what he is! I'm...
I'm... that's the end! That's it!
(So-hi begins to cry.)
Sang-bom: Don't cry. Don't cry.
So-hi: I... I must die.
Sang-bom: Please not in this room, though...
So-hi: Ah, I'm suffocating. I'm betrayed! Betrayed!
(Sang-bom exits stage left and returns with a bottle
Sang-bom: This is... wine... which my brother left...
I heard wine's the best sedative. Take some. Please.
So-hi: (Accepting the wine) You think I'm no good anyway,
I might as well accept your wine. I'm so low that I've even been betrayed
by a hoodlum like Tank. I want to get drunk.
Sang-bom: Tank never returned that can of coffee and
box of sugar he borrowed from me.
So-hi: You must be as stupid as I am.
Sang-bom: Well... I used to be... long ago... but now
I've changed my outlook.
(So-hi drinks directly from the bottle as if blowing
a trumpet. Frightened by this spectacle, Sang-bom sinks slowly onto a chair.
Then he stands abruptly, distressed by So-hi's loud choking coughs.)
What can I... Miss Hyon... are you all right?
So-hi:...My... please slap my back.
Sang-bom: Your back?
(Holding So-hi by one arm, Sang-bom slaps her back as
requested.) Do you feel any better?
So-hi: Brr! It's so stuffy in here! Hold me please, I'm
shivering... please, not quite so tight.
Sang-bom: You mean... like this?
So-hi: Yes... Oh! I'm sorry. I get cold so easily. Please
hold me a little tighter... a little more... ah, it's all because of that
goddamn son of a bitch!
Sang-bom: What? Yes...
So-hi: One minute please...
(She takes another long pull at the bottle.)
Sang-bom: But... if you drink too much, it will hurt
So-hi: What difference does it make? I'm ruined already!
He's deserted me... I'll get as goddamn drunk as I want. Ah, it's stuffy
in here. Men are all the same.
Sang-bom: I'm sorry.
So-hi: (Waving at him) I don't mean you. Why are you
treating me so kindly?
Sang-bom: Lately I've learned that one should be very
kind to women.
So-hi: I'm trembling. Hold me please.
Sang-bom: Yes... like this?
So-hi: Right. Like that. Ah! I'm suffocating. Undo me
a little bit, please.
Sang-bom: You mean, here?
(Sang-bom's hands move tremblingly up the back of So-hi's
dress as the light in the room fades out. Then, with light music, the light
comes up again. A bean curd peddler's bell rings. It is morning. Sang-bom
emerges stage left with his magazines and dumps them in the garbage box.
Then he sits on the sofa and reads a newspaper. So-hi brightly carries
in a cup of coffee, serves it to Sang-bom, kisses him on the cheek, then
flies lightly back to the inner room.)
Sang-bom: (To the audience, as he sips his coffee.)
For the first time in my life I'm drinking coffee made
by a woman.(Standing) I slept with So-hi last night. You have to grab your
chances. Instead of offering a seat, you should take the seat.(Pointing
to the garbage box) Thanks to So-hi, those magazines which I used to enjoy
looking at under the blanket have become useless. Those glamorous girls
I could see only in photos... or fantasies... now I've come up with one
of my own in just a few minutes. It was a magnificent gesture by Tank,
to leave me Hyon So-hi in exchange for my coffee and sugar. This room has
become a flower bed.
(He looks about with great satisfaction.)
Ah-there's something more. Our company president has
gone off to South Asia with an economic delegation. I saw him off at Kimp'o
Airport two days ago. Now, there's no one over me. I'm the boss. For the
first time in 31 years I'm enjoying my life. I'm a happy man.
(So-hi enters from the next room. Holding her hands.
Sang-bom whispers to her as they walk lightly around room as if dancing.)
Ah! What a beautiful life! My love! My rose! My dream!
(So-hi lets Sang-bom's hands fall and returns to the
inner room, smiling at him.)
(To the audience) Each day passes so quickly! My income
has gone up and I'm accumulating property.
(He takes out a camera and binoculars from his cabinet.)
I ever bought some binoculars. One saturday we went on a picnic. All the
way to Ui-dong.
(So-hi comes out, throwing on a coat, and puts her arm
in Sang-bom's. They walk slowly to stage fromt. Sang-bom wears sunglasses
and carries his camera and binoculars over his shoulder. As the room light
fades, stage center lights up and music evocative of birds and a pastoral
landscape is heard.)
So-hi: (Arm in arm with Sang-bom) I've never had such
a pleasant feeling before. Perhaps this is true happiness. Isn't it? My
Sang-bom: Well... It's quite nice to be out in the country
after so long.
(They look through the binoculars, still arm in arm.)
I can even see a squirrel playing in the chestnut tree... my goodness,
look at this... It's general manager Pak... no... Miss Song... the president's
daughter-in-law. I mean, his secretary. Look, Mr. Pak and Miss Song are
sitting out on the terrace on the second floor of the Full Moon Hotel...
drinking beer... now Mr. Pak is putting his arm around Miss Song's waist...
So-hi: They're human beings.
Sang-bom: Human beings?
So-hi: Human beings are all the same, aren't they?
Sang-bom: The general manager has five kids, though...
of course, he has a wife too.
So-hi: That's none of your business.
Sang-bom: Yes... still, it's important to me.
So-hi: Let's go back to the hotel.
Sang-bom: You go ahead. I think I'll go to the Full Moon
Hotel for a while. I'll be back soon.
So-hi: For what?
Sang-bom: I'll be with you soon, don't worry. Let's walk
together down to the fork in the road.
(They exit stage left. Then the spotlight focuses on
the office. A-mi sits on the sofa reading a book. A moment later the door
of the president's office flies open. Sang-bom carries out a shotgun and
begins cleaning it.)
A-mi: You're doing the shotgun again.
Sang-bom: The more I clean this beauty, the more I love
it... Tell me, any news of the president?
A-mi: Yes, he's in Singapore now.
Sang-bom:...Have you been to Singapore?
A-mi: No, I haven't been in that part of the world yet.
After staying in America almost two years...
Sang-bom: Ah, when you were in America you met your former
Sang-bom: Ah, I forgot!(Pulling out a note from his pocket)
This bill puzzles me.
A-mi: What bill is that?
Sang-bom: The other day...let's see, two days before
the president left, the day we made the contract for two-inch steel...at
the Bando Hotel. You said that the amount the president spent with the
American at that time...including the money to buy the gift...You said
the total amount was 123 thousand?
A-mi:...Yes, it was.
Sang-bom: I gave the money to you.
A-mi: And then?
Sang-bom: But when I checked with the hotel and the shop
you visited, I found the total bill came to only 62 thousand. Therefore,
the remaining 61 thousand, other than the actual expenses, was paid to
A-mi:...With that...that money...I bought the American
another gift on behalf of the president.
Sang-bom: (Raising his voice) Ah...Is that right! I understand.
There was another gift for this lucky American. The total amount you asked
for was exactly equal to...yes. I wonder how this misunderstanding could
(Awkward silence for a while.)
I say. Our general manager also studied in America?
A-mi:...That's what the say.
Sang-bom: Since he's 46 now... it was a long time ago.
A-mi:...What was a long time ago?
Sang-bom: I mean, the time when general manager Pak studied
Sang-bom: Since you are 27 now...
A-mi: You're not supposed to talk about a woman's age
Sang-bom: I don't mean to do that... at any rate there's
about a 20 year gap in your ages.
A-mi:...Well, what of it?
Sang-bom: I'm 15 years younger than he is.
(At this moment, the telephone rings. Sang-bom talks
on the phone while holding the gun in one hand.) Ah, Hello. Pardon? Ah,
manager Pak. Yes, this is the business manager. Yes? Yes? That's right
sir. I paid 20 thousand to the Full Moon Hotel in Ui-dong. I got a phone
call from the hotel. I don't know who it was that called. So I went there
personally, examined the bill, and paid 20 thousand won. Yes? I have the
receipt. Yes? I reported that sometimes you went to the hotel with your
family for a rest. Yes. Next time I'll ask you before paying the bill.
Yes. Good-bye, sir.
(A-mi, looking pale, pretends to read a book.) General
manager Pak is a real family man. Whenever he has time he seems to take
his family to the country for a rest. What! The stove's run out of oil.
Should I work in the president's office... temporarily... should I become
the acting president for about five minutes? Ha, ha...
(Sang-bom holds the gun and aims it here and there. He
points it at A-mi for a moment. She is frightened. Then Sang-bom enters
the president's office. A-mi stands, picks up the phone and dials.)
A-mi: It's me. I must see you right away. I'll come over
there okay? Well, the hotel owner's not so good. Yes.
(A-mi hangs up and paces around the room. Then she picks
up her handbag and opens the door of the president's office.) Mr. Kim,
I'm going to the dentist. I'll be back soon.
(Sang-bom steps out from the president's office still
holding the gun.)
Sang-bom: Dentist? Yes, go ahead.
(A-mi exits, looking sullen.)
(To the audience) I caught general manager Pak and secretary
Song in the act. They belong to a high class whose quality is entirely
different from mine. But once they are caught in a scandalous act they
fall into confusion, as you saw. The Full Moon Hotel never demanded that
I pay their bills. I myself went to the hotel and paid them, just so I
would be able to make general manager Pak uneasy now.
Let's see...I have to admit I've got a new desire. Though
I've risen to become the youngest business manager in the history of this
company, I want to climb still higher. I can't be satisfied with this position
which I got thanks to toilet paper, church connections, and slander against
Pae Yong-min. Now I'm going to use the big bait of general manager Pak
and Song A-mi to catch that fat goldfish called "success in life."
If ordinary people like me try to follow the straight
and narrow, they never even get near the threshold of success in life.
That's why I must use the NEW COMMON SENSE.
(Coming out to stage front.) I've been so absorbed in
distinguishing myself at work that somehow two months has passed without
my knowing it. While I've been concentrating on the company, a horrifying
thing has happened at home. One evening when I returned to my nest, my
apartment where my darling was waiting for me...
(Sang-bom steps toward stage front, opens the door of
his room, enters. The room lights up. Hyon So-hi and Tank are rolling about
beneath the large cross on the wall.)
E... h? this...
(The two stand up, recovering slowly from their delirium,
somewhat drunk. Liquor bottles and glasses roll on the teatable.)
So-hi: Ah... you're home.
Tank: Ah... It's been a long time, brother Kim.
(Tank stands up and thrusts out his hand, but Sang-bom
immediately begins fixing his tie. Sang-bom refuses to shake his hand.)
Sang-bom: Get out of here! Now! Goddamn dogs!
So-hi: Take it easy. Have a glass of wine.
(Sang-bom, furious, is about to slap So-hi's cheek, but
Tank roughly restrains him.)
Tank: You mustn't use violence against a weak woman.
Sang-bom: You!... You're nothing but a big thief!...
What are you, anyway?
Tank: Me a thief? Ha! You don't know who the thief is!
Who is it that stole my wife while I was gone?
Sang-bom: Your wife?
So-hi: Yes. My actual husband's Tank. though of course
you're my legal husband.
Sang-bom: I'm your legal husband?
(So-hi jumps to her feet and removes an envelope from
her handbag, waving a piece of paper she takes from the envelope.)
So-hi: See this? This is a copy of our marriage certificate.
Sang-bom: Marriage certificate? When did I register...?
So-hi: You were busy, so I did it myself about a week
Sang-bom: I never married you.
Tank: The wedding ceremony, that doesn't matter. Once
you're registered, you're a married couple. That's it. I'm the witness,
as a matter of fact.
Sang-bom: A foul witness like you?
So-hi: Now I've been caught in the act of committing
adultery with my secret lover. This is serious enough for a divorce. Isn't
it? If you want to divorce me, I'm willing to sign the papers. Here are
the divorce papers all ready to be signed.
(she takes another envelope from her handbag.)
Tank: Again I can be the witness.
Sang-bom: Humph! Of course I'll divorce you. Registered
our marriage without telling me! Huh! Vicious frauds!
So-hi: But... there's a condition if you want this divorce.
So-hi: Right. I want 500 thousand won as consolation
Sang-bom: You're a damn robber! Prostitute! 500 thousand
So-hi: There. you see? I have no choice. I'll have to
hang around here.
Tank: Ah, ah, take it easy now. You shouldn't be irrational
like that. We're all adults. aren't we? 500 thousand won isn't that much
Sang-bom: I won't give you even five won. Not even if
I took back the money which I used to feed a dirty prostitute like you
all this time. I still wouldn't be satisfied!
So-hi: Humph! If you sleep with a girl like me for a
night, you need at least three thousand, don't you? You haven't paid me
even a nickel during the last three months. What's more, I'm such a beautiful
Tank: Right, beauty like this deserves a little more.
So-hi: He's used a beautiful woman like me as a housemaid,
more than three months....And I was confined in the house all alone during
the daytime... 500 thousand is not enough, I say. You're the business manager,
aren't you? You can afford several millions. Such a trivial amount is no
problem to you.
Tank: Hey, Mr. Kim! Miss Hyon, you know, she gets a little
over-excited sometimes. If she talked with the president in this condition,
there's no telling what might happen.
So-hi: You're a church-goer? A bachelor? Think about
it and give me 500 thousand won. I'll give you two days to think it over.
If you don't cough it up by then, I'll have to have a little talk with
your company president. Do I have some choice stories for him?
Sang-bom: (To the audience) What can I do in a case like
this? Those gangsters are completely lacking in common sense. I ran out
of the building and wandered the streets. But I've no place to go. I have
to sleep at the office.
(Sang-bom walks across to his office. A man and woman
are heard laughing behind the president's door. Sang-bom opens the door
a crack, peeks in and closes the door instantly, stunned.)
At this time of night, general manager Pak and A-mi are
sitting on the couch? Of course they are not sitting quietly. In fact,
they are not sitting at all. Can you imagine what must be going on at my
apartment? I may be the only poor working man in the world being tormented
by two love affairs at once. I can't be tormented like this forever. The
New Common Sense tells me I must take certain measures.
(The telephone rings. Sang-bom does not answer it. Finally
Song A-mi comes out, hair dissheveled, skirt rumpled. She is frightened
to see Sang-bom.)
Sang-bom: (Picking up the phone) Hello? Yes. I'm Kim
Sang-bom. What do you want, Tank? You son of a bitch! How did you know
I was here...? What? You think, it's obvious I have no other place to go?
And...? then...? What time...? Ten...? O. K. I'll be there.
(To A-mi after hanging up) What's the matter with you?
A-mi: (After touching up her skirt and hair)...Since
when are you keeping an eye on us?
Sang-bom: I... What do you mean? I have some work in
my desk, I came only to finish it up...
A-mi: By yourself?
Sang-bom:...No. I came with my friend and...
A-mi: With your friend? All right... Where's your friend...?
Sang-bom: Yes... I say... I saw you and general manager
Park in the president's office... and I had my friend go...
A-mi: Then your friend also saw us... is that what you
mean? He's a witness?
Sang-bom:...What you are talking about...?
A-mi: Do you know anything about us?
Sang-bom: I don't know a thing, of course not... that
way my friend calling. I'm afraid I must leave. I'm going without saying
hello to general manager Pak. Please extend my regards to him.
(Sang-bom exits. A-mi stands with folded arms as the
office light fades. Sang-bom brings out a settee from stage left and sits
on it stage front.)
Sang-bom: I'm being threatened by those vicious frauds
Tank and So-hi. But at the same time I'm threatening general manager Pak
and Song A-mi. I'm chased but I'm also in a position to chase. A while
ago Tank called and said he wants to meet me at Pagoda Park. He said he
has a good way to clean up this messy situation.
(Tank comes out with a cigarette between his teeth and
sits down next to Sang-bom.)
Tank: Pretty quiet around here.
Sang-bom: Let's get down to business. What is it you're
Tank: I'm telling you, you shouldn't treat a woman like
that. You must handle them tenderly.
Sang-bom: Goddamn it, I didn't come to listen to a sermon.
What's your proposal?
Tank: Since today is the 23rd... tomorrow's the 24th.
Therefore, that makes it the day before payday, right? Payday is the 25th?
Sang-bom: How would you know about payday? Are you trying
to tell me somebody hired you?
Tank: It's just common sense... so, tomorrow, the 24th,
you'll be preparing to pay salaries to the company workers, because you're
business manager. The salaries will be paid at one o'clock on the afternoon
of the 25th? So-hi told me this. Therefore, the business manager and the
secretary will stay in the office, getting ready to pay the salaries, while
everyone else goes out for lunch. I mean, just you and the secretary and
420 million won, just you and the secretary and 420 million won. Right?
420 million won! Now that's big money. If I pay a visit to the office at
12: 30 or so and threaten you with a gun or a bomb, you'll have to turn
the 420 million over to me. Get it? As a mere business manager you won't
have any choice but to go along with it. They'll go for the story, no worry
about that. And in return I'll be very generous with you. I'll make sure
So-hi never shows her face in your place again.
Tank: Do you think you can save yourself from So-hi with
a mere 50 million won? She'll be bugging you the rest of your life. This
won't be the last time! If you tried to get 50 million won, you'd have
to do something risky, some complicated financial hankypanky. Too risky!
You'd better be robbed of 420 million of the company's money than have
to commit some crime yourself, wouldn't you? I think so. I can guarantee
you that you'll never see So-hi agian.
(Tank stands up and tosses away his cigarrete butt.)
Then... I'll see you at 12: 25 on the 25th at your office. You won't forget.
I know you won't forget.
Sang-bom: Then... you'll return the marriage certificate
and the divorce papers to me?
Tank:...After I get the 420 million. At your office-I'll
see you at 12: 25 on the 25th. After that, you won't have to put up any
more with Hyon, So-hi you can be sure of that. If anything does happen
just say you don't know anything about it.
(Tank strolls away. The office lights up and A-mi is
seen counting piles of money. Sang-bom comes of the president's office
carrying an approved document.)
Sang-bom: You're working too hard.
(Without any reply A-mi continues to count out stacks
of bills and put them into envelopes. Sang-bom glares impatiently at his
watch. The president comes out. Sang-bom stands and bows to him.)
President: Will the salaries be ready on time?
Sang-bom: Yes, sir! At one o'clock on the dot, no problem,
President: I'll be at the Hong Pa restaurant right across
the street. I'm having lunch with Dr. Pak...
Sang-bom: Yes, sir. If anything comes up, I'll let you
(The president exits. Sang-bom restlessly paces the stage.)
Say... Are you going to have some lunch, Miss Song?
A-mi: Am I in any condition to eat?
Sang-bom: I'll take care of this. Why don't you go have
lunch with the president?
A-mi: If you tried to take care of all this by yourself,
the pay would never be ready on time.
Sang-bom:...The time is now...(He looks at his watch.)
according to my watch it's 12: 25... I say... What time do you have?
A-mi: (Glancing at her watch, annoyed) It's exactly twenty-five
minutes after twelve.
Sang-bom: (Again sitting behind his desk, face to face
with her) Exactly twelve-twenty-five...
(Tank comes on stage wearing a derby pulled low over
his eyes. He carries a suitcase. A-mi stops her work to watch Tank.)
A-mi: Pardon me... may I ask whom you're looking for...?
(Instead of answering Tank thrusts a revolver at her.
A-mi is so stunned she stands up. Then she faints.)
Tank: Anybody in there...?
(Sang-bom shakes his head.) Now, put all this in my bag.
Sang-bom: Humph! You arrived exactly on time!
Tank: Gentlemen should always be on time.
(Sang-bom is placing the stacks of bills in the bag.)
Sang-bom: Since you say you're a gentleman, just be sure
you keep your promise.
Tank: What promise?
Sang-bom: The marriage certificate. The divorce papers.
Tank: (Taking out an envelope and showing it to him.)
You mean these? You'll get these when I get the money, just as we promised.
It's like a business contract, you might say.
(Sang-bom finishes putting the money in the suitcase,
closes it, thrusts it at Tank.)
Sang-bom: Now, let's chose the deal.
(They exchange the suitcase and the envelope.)
Tank: I'm... I'm not staying in Korea. You'll be glad
to hear that. Ah, and... I have another promise to keep... (Taking out
a woman's stocking from his inner pocket.) Keep this too as a souvenier.
Sang-bom: You murdered So-hi...?
Tank: I told you, I keep my word.
Sang-bom: You strangled her with this...?
Tank: Tsk, Tsk! How can you talk like that? Perhaps she's
having lunch in heaven by now. Good work, Sang-bom!
(Tank exist leisurely, carrying the suitcase. Sang-bom
meditates intensely for an instant, clutching the envelope and the stocking.
Then he thrusts the envelope into his inner pocket, the stocking into his
rear trouser pocket. He pulls out the shotgun from beneath his desk and
rushes out. A short time later two shotgun blasts are heard. Sang-bom returns
carrying the shotgun. He kneels beside A-mi, who remains in a deep faint,
and gently lifts the upper part of her body and embraces her. He gradually
tightens the embrace. Then the president rushes in and is startled at the
sight of A-mi and Sang-bom.)
President: My God! Is anybody wounded? (Sang-bom arranges
A-mi's body on the floor and gently shakes her. After a moment she opens
her eyes and looks around.)
Sang-bom: You were stunned. Everything's all right now.
I grabbed him.
A-mi: The robber...?
President: (Grasping Sang-bom's hand) You're a good boy!
You did an excellent job! My thanks to you! People came running out from
the building yelling that a robber had broken into our company and... I
was so frightened... Ah, you're brave, very brave! God helped you! Yes,
I believe God helped you.
Sang-bom: Is that guy dead?
President: Dead, dead! Ah good work, good work!
(A-mi picks herself up and is about to exit. Sang-bom
runs to stop her.)
A-mi: What happened to the thief, the thief...?
President: We got him. With God's help.
A-mi: Who got him?
President: Manager Kim over there, he did it.
A-mi: (Shaking her head as if it's hard to believe) Let
me... go to the restroom.
(Again she shakes her head. Holding the shotgun with
one hand, Sang-bom throws the other around her waist. When the president
sees this, he nods approvingly. At last A-mi pushes Sang-bom away and goes
Sang-bom: Sir, I'm very sorry I was unable to prevent
President: Not at all! I say, it's supernatural. Now,
let's hurry, we must report it to the police.
(Accepting the shotgun from Sang-bom.) Heroic, this was
an heroic action... By the way... since when... have you had such a relationship
with secretary Song?
Sang-bom: Ah... well, I don't know what to say... it
President: You love Miss Song, then?
Sang-bom: Why, of course...
President: Of course secretary Song also loves you...
President: I know! I know! I can understand it. You have
integrity. I can't go on forever insisting that she's my daughter-in-law.
Perhps my son in his grave would rather see her marry again. I could understand
that... At any rate you did an excellent job for the company.
Sang-bom: (Stepping toward the audience) Things have
worked out so well that I feel rather dizzy. The next day the president
gathered everyone in the company and praised me before them. After that
he gave me a reward of 50 million won, because I saved the company 420
million won. What's more, I've been specially promoted to managing director.
I've become a hero at the company and for all Seoul citizens. As a result,
business is picking up at the company. Orders are flooding in from all
over the place.
What it amounts to is this. Tank lost. He lost because
he made the mistake of telling me he had murdered Hyon So-hi. His plan
fell apart at that moment. As soon as I realized that Tank had killed her,
my New Common Sense went into operation. Two people were killed, it's true,
but I don't feel even a trifle uneasy.
You think this is curious? Well... isn't it true that
I shot him in my own self-defense, quite legitimately? That's how I see
it. Certainly I prefer to believe that's the correnct interpretation.
A few days later, I called Song A-mi to my hotel. Since
I'd caught the poor doll in flagrante delicto, she had no choice but to
show up without protest at my room.
(Song A-mi enters stage left, walks up through stage
front to the door of the room. She stands there, obviously angry. A few
moments later, she knocks on the door as if she has no choice.)
Sang-bom: (Standing up) Come in.
(Although she has opened the door, she still stands at
the threshold.) Come in, please!
(A-mi steps in without a word, stands.) Have a seat over
A-mi: I'm all right just like this. Now what is it you
want? I've no time to waste.
Sang-bom: But, please, I'd like you to sit down...
A-mi: In five minutes I'm going to leave.
(A-mi sits down.)
Sang-bom: What's your hurry? Is general manager Pak waiting
(A-mi doens't reply.) Would you like some coffee?
A-mi: Please, let's get on with it. What is it that's
Sang-bom: I'll tell you, don't worry.
A-mi: Go ahead. Nowadays Manager Kim, you are...
Sang-bom: Ah, I'm managing director.
A-mi: Nowadays you're in seventh heaven. aren't you?
All the newspapers write about you and you've risen so high for someone
so young... you were given a reward of 50 million won...
Sang-bom: Thank you for the compliments. I'm going to
get a good shotgun with that money.
A-mi: I wonder if you could speak to me about the important
Sang-bom: O.K., I will. You're an intelligent woman educated
Sang-bom: What's more you're very beautiful.
A-mi: Thank you.
Sang-bom: Above all, you're a smart woman.
A-mi: Oh my! What on earth, this man...
Sang-bom: Just a moment. And you're passionately in love
with general manager Park. In fact, you're deeply involved with a man who
has not only a wife but several kids as well. I saw the two of you sleeping
together at a hotel.
A-mi: That's not true!
Sang-bom: Then, may I show you a photograph I took? I
have many other photos and some reports from a detective agency. You began
to flirt around less than six months after your husband's death. Even if
I mysteriously vanished, by the way, there's another person, a friend of
mine, who will testify about your scandalous relations with general manager
Pak. So you can stop thinking about getting rid of me, it won't work...
And there's something else I want to talk with you about-all the company
money that's gone into your purse. That money belongs to your father-in-low,
so you think you can be reckless with it. Without telling him, of course.
One might say you've stolen that money.
A-mi: I know what you want. Tell me, manager Kim... No,
managing director Kim... exactly how much do you want? Let's get down to
specifics. How many won?
Sang-bom: Well... your late husband... let's see, a few
days before the president's son died, he changed his will and left all
his property entirely to his father's care.
A-mi: (Flying into a rage) How did you find out about
Sang-bom: A unmber of times I've visited the president's
lawyer on company business.... What's more, I know something even more
important. In the event of your remarriage, the president is to return
the property to you. That is, if he thinks your new husband is a man of
ability and character. Your late husband was a more generous man than Christ
A-mi: He was a different kind of man from a vicious fraud
Sang-bom: I'd say he was much too good a man for an adulteress
A-mi: Oh, for God's sake! You brought me here, now what
are you going to do with me?
Sang-bom: I want to marry you.
A-mi: Oh, my God!... What?
Sang-bom: I said, I want to marry Miss Song A-mi.
A-mi: Marry a man like you...? Incredible!
Sang-bom: Incredible? Not at all... why, when we're married...
I'll become just as generous to you as your Christ-like husband. I'll take
care of feeding the other five in your family and I'll put your brother
and sister through college. Our fortunes will go up and up... When the
president retires, you'll be the new president's wife...
A-mi: Oh, my God.
Sang-bom: It's obvious I'll become the new president,
isn't it? At any rate, the president will approve of your marrying me.
A-mi: If I refuse, then what do you intend to do?
Sang-bom: Refuse? A beautiful, smart woman like you refuse
such a wonderful offer? That would be a real mistake. You know, I also
sometimes desire to sleep with you. You're very beautiful and...
A-mi: I can't stand it!
(A-mi jumps to her feet and flies furiously toward the
Sang-bom: Think it over! It's just an offer. If you don't
like it, go home, fine... If you accept it, come back here and sit down
(A-mi hesitates for a while and sits on the chair again.
The room light slowly fades out as Sang-bom steps stage front and addresses
the audience.) And that's how it happened that I slept with Song A-mi that
night. It was so different from the first night in bed with Hyon So-hi.
I couldn't feel any emotion or excitement at all.
All that was left was only a fearfully strong sense of
conquest and victory.
After a certain period A-mi and I had our wedding ceremony
on a snowy day. We invited a few close friends and relatives.
(The president, Sang-hak, Pae Yong-min, Mrs. Mun, Yong-ja,
and A-mi come out carrying drinks, talking cheerily.)
Humph! We invited general manager Pak too. But he tells
us he's not feeling well-a bad case of diarrhea hit him early this morning.
President: Now, did you say when your plane leaves?
Sang-bom: 2 : 30, sir.
President: You'd better hurry up. Don't forget, the mountain
behind the hotel is a good place for hunting deer. I'm afraid you'll stay
in your suite just because this trip is a honeymoon. I'm reminding you,
don't forget to go hunting. Bring me back a few deer or rabbits.(To Pae
Yong-min) Manager Pae, the gift...
(Yong-min exits.) I have a special gift for you.
Sang-bom: You're already given me so many presents...
(Pae Yong-min brings out a shotgun.)
Pae Yong-min: Managing director Kim, sir! Congratulations.
President: I say, this, this? This is a two-chamber-revolver
made in Belgium. That's right! This is the best possible honeymoon gift.
With this gift you can protect your wife and... go hunting...
Sang-bom: Thank you, sir.
(As Sang-bom accepts the gun, Sang-Ch'ol runs on stage.)
Sang-Ch'ol: Brother! Brother!
Sang-bom: You're here!
Sang-Ch'ol: I'm sorry I'm late. But I did it! I did it!
Sang-hak: What? Ah, you passed the exam?
Sang-Ch'ol: Right. I passed! I passed!
President: Now I say, everyone, the time's getting short.
We'd better be going. We'll be outside, Sang-bom. I'm sure these three
brothers would like to have a word in private before we go...
(All of them exit, leaving the three brothers.)
(A-mi also exits.)
Sang-bom: (To Sang-Ch'ol) Great work!
Sang-Ch'ol: It took three years. Three years!
Sang-hak: However long it took. I'm very happy for you...
I've passed too, by the way.
Sang-bom: You too, brother?
Sang-hak: I've... given up my professorship!
Sang-hak: Ever since my marriage, I've lived only to
take care of my family. When I was working at the college, I found I coundn't
make enough to feed my family. Especially not if I tried to pursue my rocket
research. Therefore, I became a primary school teacher.
Sang-Ch'ol: You mean... a primary school teacher?
Sang-hak: Actually it's a private primary school. It
pays me twice what the college did. What a world! A primary school teacher
makes more than a college professor! The only reason I could do this is
that I graduated from a teacher's college in the old days. The principal
at the primary school happens to be a friend of mine. I thought this was
important if I was to have a suitable position. Nowadays I rather feel
Sang-Ch'ol: Can you make any money on the side?
Sang-hak: Well, look, it's getting late. We'd better
Sang-Ch'ol: Father refused to come, you know. Because
brother didn't marry a virgin.
Sang-bom: (To the audience as soon as Sang-hak and Sang-Ch'ol
exeunt) My brother Sang-Ch'ol finally became a trainee working at the bottom
of an administrative section. After three years of blood and sweat! With
great difficulty he managed to squeeze through the gate into the world
of common sense. Of course, his future remains rather... vague. And yet
he himself seems very satisfied, at least at the moment.
On the other hand, my other brother demoted himself to
a primary school teacher. Yet he too seems to feel happy in his improved
ability to take care of his family. And what about me? I've become a bigwig
of a steel company; I'm no longer bothered by things like money and status.
In the future... well... what awaits me?
(A-mi brings out two chairs and puts them side by side
at stage front. Sang-bom and A-mi sit on the chairs. The thundering sound
of an airplane is heard.)
Here we are, a newly married couple, and we have nothing
to say to each other. Our plane is flying to Kangwon Province, but we have
the feeling we're flying into endless empty space; we feel it stretching
ahead forever. Shortly before the plane landed, A-mi opened her mouth for
the first time.
A-mi: Darling... excuse me...
Sang-bom: You don't look too well... are you feeling
A-mi: No... I'm afraid I'm... I'm pregnant.
Sang-bom: Pregnant? You don't mean... a baby?
Sang-bom:...You'd better take good care of yourself.
A-mi: We've arrived.
(A-mi unfastens an imaginary seatbelt. Sang-bom sits
vacantly without moving.)
Sang-bom: My mind was disturbed by this. She told me
there's new life in her belly. Even in the hotel I couldn't find any peace
(A-mi stands up and exits.)
A new life growing in A-mi's belly! As for my part in
it... it couldn't possibly be my baby. At any rate, whomever it belongs
to, it will be born as my baby as far as the law's concerned. When that
tiny boy or girl that's not my own arrives in the world with the usual
tears and shrieks, what will my reaction be? A puppy begotten by a wolf
and a fox. I'll have to believe a wolf is the same as a dog. I'll have
to believe it's a puppy which will grow up to be very much like me. While
the true parents, that male wolf and that female fox, are grinning at us
from a distance. we'll have to be happy with telling each other we're alike...
I sat on this chair, but it was so painful that I moved
to the other one.(He moves to other chair.) I was blown here by the wind
of a New Common Sense, you might say... But I discovered that in the end
they're both the same: the only difference is the location. Uneasiness
and anxiety still follow me just as before. Right now I can see the image
of my brother Sang-Ch'ol, who is doing something... sweating heavily...
excited. The face of my other brother smiling and singing with his children-that
too comes into my mind. Still... they don't know this society... Or is
it because they know it very well that they've chosen their particular
The next evening Pae Yong-min, who was assigned to this
remote area, came to visit me.
(Pae Yong-min enters with an armful of flowers.)
Pae Yong-min: How are you, sir? I'm sorry to visit you
at night like this... Where is Mrs. Kim?
Sang-bom: She's in the bathroom. Are those flowers for
me or my lovely wife?
Pae Yong-min: These? They're for both of you, of course...
By the way... how's this hotel? Is it quiet?(No reaction from Sang-bom.)
The atmosphere is pretty romantic...
Sang-bom: It's sentimental.
Pae Yong-min: That's the perfect word. The atmosphere
is pretty sentimental.
Sang-bom: No, it's comical.
Pae Yong-min:...That's right. It's comical, sir!
Sang-bom: Well... a still better word is `tragic'!
Pae Yong-min: What sir? Tragic...?
Sang-bom: From a larger perpective I'd say `comical'is
actually the best description.
Pae Yong-min:... Ah, a comical atmosphere! That's an
excellent way to put it. It's a very literary expression. Since I've been
living in this isolated area, I haven't been able to read as many books
as I'd like... I've always loved literature, though... since I came to
these mountains, I haven't been able to read much...
Sang-bom: I'd think a quiet area like this would be very
good for reading...
Pae Yong-min: Temperamentally... and because of my family
situation... any way one looks at it, in fact, to be assigned to Seoul
Sang-bom: Well! In this dusty corner graft would be very
Yong-min: What sir? Graft? I don't know what you're talking
(At this moment A-mi comes out of the bathroom wearing
only a negligee. Yong-min is embarrassed.)
I brought these flowers for you...
(He hesitates and hands them to Sang-bom.) I'll wait
in the tearoom downstairs. Mrs. Kim, congratulations.
(Yong-min Pae exits.)
A-mi: When did he drop in? And what is he congratulating
Sang-bom: Well... perhaps on the baby in your belly.
A-mi: Humph! You've got this baby on the brain!
Sang-bom: Because it's a lovely baby!... You look very
good in that nightgown. It's almost like wearing nothing at all.
A-mi: Thank you.
Sang-bom: How strange it is...
A-mi: What are you getting at?
Sang-bom: Well, I'd say women look even more beautiful
without clothes than with them.
A-mi:...You've made a great discovery.
(At this time the telephone rings noisily.) Answer the
Sang-bom: I think it must be our Mr. Pae, who's dreaming
of the streets of Seoul in the tearoom downstairs.(Sang-bom picks up the
phone.) Hello? Yes? Long distance from Seoul? Who? Song? A-mi Just a moment.
It's long distance from Seoul.(He gives the phone to A-mi.)
A-mi: Hello? Yes? Go ahead, please... ah... (She glances
at Sang-bom.) Yes, I'm fine. How's it with you?... Don't worry... Is it
cold even in Seoul now?... Yes... I'm O.K. I hve no choice but to endure...
Yes... I'll see you when I get to Seoul. Bye, bye.
(She reluctantly hangs up.)
...It was my mother.
Sang-bom: Ah, it was your mother... By any chance, did
she inquire about her new son-in-law? She's a very energetic woman! To
make a long distance call at her age... Even you had to shout into the
phone... Why didn't you talk a little longer?... We don't have to worry
about the cost.
A-mi: I'll be out after I change.
(A-mi enters her room silently. Sang-bom sits on the
chair without moving. Pae Yong-min comes in again.)
Pae Yong-min: (Thrusting a note into his hand.) Sir,
forgive my forgetfulness. There's a telegram for you from company headquarters
in Seoul. I forgot about it.
Sang-bom: What does it say...?
Pae Yong-min: It says you should be in Pusan by 5 o'clock
Sang-bom: In Pusan?
Pae Yong-min: At the Tong-nae Hotel. The president isn't
feeling well... He wants you to take his place in Pusan and sign the contract
concerning construction of the plant... our third plant, sir!
Sang-bom: My honeymoon is supposed to last a full week...
Pae Yong-min: There's no reason you couldn't continue
enjoying your honeymoon in Pusan, is there sir?
Sang-bom: Let's go down to the tearoom. The drinks are
Pae Yong-min: Are you a drinking man, sir?
Sang-bom: I'm about to be from now on. And while we're
drinking, let's talk about this matter of transferring you to Seoul.
Pae Yong-min: Thank you, sir.
Sang-bom: All I can do now is... drink... then... you
(Pae Yong-min exits first.)
Hello! My darling!... My A-mi! A-mi!
(Sang-bom is almost screaming. Song A-mi, frightened,
runs on stage, still slipping on her clothes.)
A-mi: What's going on? Why are you shouting my name like
Sang-bom: Because I want to see you. Well... are you
A-mi: (Sarcastically) Happy?
Sang-bom: Hmph! I'm supposed to go to Pusan tomorrow.
The president ordered me to. Manager Pae received a telegram. He wants
me to go down as soon as possible. Well, What about you... you want to
A-mi: Me?... well... I feel so heavy...
Sang-bom: Then you'll go on up to Seoul?
A-mi: I think it's better. How long will you stay in
Sang-bom: Well, how long do you want me to stay in Pusan?
A-mi: How should I know...?
Sang-bom: I'll call you from Pusan. You're pretty.
A-mi: Don't be foolish.
Sang-bom: (Holding A-mi in his arms) When is our baby...?
A-mi: It's due in August next year.
Sang-bom: (Gently shaking A-mi) Our baby! It'll be very
pretty! It's our lovely baby. I'm happy! Happy! I have money, a high position
and a beautiful wife, And now a baby's on the way!
A-mi: Humph! Oh, my! You, tears... You're a man... Why
Sang-bom: Because I'm too happy! I'm so happy that I'm
crying. Well, I think I'll go downstairs and get a drink. Will you come
A-mi: I feel so heavy...
Sang-bom: Yes, you must rest. Starting today, I'm learning
how to be a drinking man... You'd better make a long distance call to Seoul.
A-mi: What are you talking about?
Sang-bom: Ah, since our honeymoon plans have been changed,
you should call. You have to go up to Seoul, so call someone and tell him
to get our nest in good shape.
A-mi: All right, I will.
(Sang-bom exits. A moment later A-mi picks up the phone.)
Hello, operator? This is a long distance call, person to person. The number
is Seoul 70-3838. I want to speak with Mr. Pak Ho-p'il. Please ring me
as soon as you get through.
(The room lights fade as she hangs up. Then a spotlight
focuses on Sang-bom, who is sitting on a chair stage front. He holds his
shortgun in his hands. A train-whistle sounds; then the sound of a fierce
Sang-bom: I've changed trains several times and now I'm
on the last leg of the trip to Pusan. Outside the window there's a roaring
snowstorm; all I can see is white. I drank too much last night. I'm so
badly hung over I feel as if my brains are about to burst out of my head...
This shotgun! I don't know why, but I feel very uneasy about it. Perhaps
that's why I'm holding it like this.
My wife A-mi left for Seoul. I've got a job to do...
it's such a trifling thing. What's the use thinking about it? Song A-mi...
it's just possible that the baby in my bride's belly is my own. I must
consciously force myself to think that this baby which will be born next
August is truly my own. No...
(He takes a coin from his pocket and flips it.)
Ha, ha, It's heads: It might be my own baby. I'll try
to believe that. Do I have any choice? I can try to believe...
(The snowstorm roars at an ever-higher pitch; the whistle
shrieks itself hoarse as if the train is going at its maximum speed, or
beyond, and the curtain falls slowly.)
Translated by Lee Tae-dong and Greggar Sletteland.